Mark Gordon Strandberg

Mark Gordon Strandberg was born November 21, 1960, in Minneapolis, Hennepin Co., MN, and died November 9, 1976, in Minneapolis, Hennepin Co., MN, at age 15. He is the son of Gordon Reynold Strandberg of Minneapolis, Hennepin Co., MN, and Renae Joyce Smith of Minneapolis, Hennepin Co., MN. Buried in Ft. Snelling National Cemetery, MN.


Mark Gordon Strandberg was born November 21, 1960, in Minneapolis, Hennepin Co., MN.

Mark Gordon Strandberg died November 9, 1976, in Minneapolis, Hennepin Co., MN, at age 15.

(WCCO) Bloomington, MN, April 30, 2007.

Fifteen-year-old Mark Strandberg said goodnight to his mother in November 1976. The next morning, his sister found him shot to death in his bedroom. Thirty years later, Bloomington, Minn. police are taking a fresh look at the case. One of their most bizarre pieces of evidence is an anonymous letter sent to Mark's family 14 years after the murder, claiming it was an accident that occurred during a robbery. The man now in charge of the police department's homicide investigation, Sgt. Mark Stehlik, sat next to Mark Strandberg in homeroom at Bloomington Jefferson High School. Stehlik said he hopes someone viewing this WCCO-TV Cold Case report will call the Bloomington Police Department to help solve this three-decades-old mystery.

(WCCO) Bloomington, MN, April 30, 2007.

It has been 30 years since Renae Strandberg said her last goodnight to her son, Mark, after he returned home from his job at a neighborhood bowling alley. "I remember saying good night Mark and he went to bed. The next thing was the morning when he was found murdered," she said. Mark's sister found him shot to death in his basement bedroom. "She thought he was kidding. He wouldn't wake up and he was on the floor," said Strandberg. No one in the Strandberg family heard any gunshots the night Mark was killed or the glass breaking as the intruder got in. At the time, a different boy named Mark was also a sophomore at Bloomington Jefferson High School. Mark Stehlik, now a police sergeant in charge of investigating murders and other violent crimes in Bloomington, sat next to Mark Strandberg in homeroom. "Very weird to be 15 years, 16 years old, a high school kid and one of your classmates is gone," remembered Stehlik. "To me, this is a case that certainly I will never forget about and (will) bring to a conclusion while I'm working in here, I hope."

Police spent many long days investigating the case but the trail went cold, until 14 years later when it took a bizarre twist. That's when the victim's family received an anonymous letter. "I had been out of town and came home and there was this stack of mail in the mailbox," said Strandberg. WCCO-TV obtained a copy of the letter, which had never been released publicly before. The letter's writer confessed to killing Mark during a robbery. "When I came to your house that night I really had no intention of killing him. The shooting was an accident," the letter reads. "I didn't think he was even hit. I was just so scared that I ran out of the house. ... I hope your lives are back to normal. I didn't really mean for him to die." "Apparently he had a lot of guilt and was apologizing. So I was really hopeful at the time that this evidence would be helpful in solving this murder," said Strandberg. When asked what about the letter made her presume it was real, she replied, "I just assumed it was real. I couldn't imagine sending a letter, such a letter." "We have not been able to discount the letter as being truthful," said Stehlik. "Can I say absolutely that we think it is? No, but is there a strong possibility that it could be? Absolutely."

Strandberg still lives in the house where her son was murdered, and hopes a fresh look at Mark's death will lead to justice and answers. "I miss him. I try to imagine what he would look like today," she said. "Would he be married? Would he have family? What kind of work would he be doing? ... It would really be closure just to know why, why. That's a big question." She also said she has forgiven the killer. "I would have to say I forgive him now. At the time it was hard for me. I said, 'No, I could never forgive that person,'" she said, adding she knows it would take a lot to forgive the killer but that "I would have to." Bloomington police hope anyone who has information on the case or may know the letter's author will give them a call at (952) 563-4900.

The Letter is shown below. Click on the image for a PDF view.